Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I've avoided evangelical man-groups for years, declining sometimes even the sincerest of invitations to bond over good food and "fellowship" (An ambiguous term which always brings to mind Rubadub-dub, three men in a tub, an occurrence I'm happy to say I've avoided). I especially avoid these gatherings when a book is involved. Not only has this awkward form of networking bypassed the normal, social speed for the development of genuine friendships to which I'm accustomed, but the language spoken in these sorts of settings might as well be Klingon to me. I'm not certain what is meant by QI'yaH, loDnI', lifting Ha' latlh jaj HoSqu'mo' lan chaH joH tIqwIj (Klingon for Hey, brother, I was lifting you up the other day because the Lord laid you on my mind) to which my normal response would be MajQa' Hech, DaH? chay' jen 'ej nuq porgh 'ay' ghop Hot mojpu'? (Oh, he did, did he? Well, how high? And exactly where did you put your hands?). But then I think I'm missing the point of the man-group altogether.

The main reason I sweat at these groups is that the subject of women comes up. Nine times out of ten, someone is going to remind us why we are at the meeting in the first place and will mention "emasculated" men, what society has "done" to manhood, "real" masculinity, the feminist movement, fatherlessness, and other curious suggestions for why masculinity finds itself rocking back and forth in the fetal position in the corner somewhere. Why am I bothered? Because in these conversations the elevation of men is almost always invariably achieved by the diminishment of women.

In group talks about masculinity, "real" men tend to establish themselves by essentially retracting the years that woman's suffrage, democratic progress, and a more progressive understanding of human nature has gained on behalf of women everywhere. The idea is that where a woman's place cannot be understood except be it in diminutive, servile, and patronized contexts, "real" men can't be who they need to be (That is to say, "real" without the quotation marks). And if "real" men cannot be who they need to be, then no hope exists for culture. Now, considering the roots of male-dominated culture, it's an understandable but unfortunate mindset.

When I ran a school full-time for eleven years, I failed to lay the foundation stones for a healthy view of female sexuality. To many traditional families, sexuality meant sex, not gender orientation. And to many progressive families, sexuality meant orientation which was sexist. So I straddled the dichotomy like a chameleon and was understandably misunderstood. When the majority of my families wanted to ban girls from Airsoft wars, I didn't raise much of a protest. And when the majority wanted the girls to wear dresses on the "dressier" days, I didn't raise much of a protest. But I finally drew the line when I was asked to officially ban dating and impose a 6-inch rule. Seriously? For me that was a sharia I was unwilling to impose for the very stupid assumption it necessitated: that female sexuality is forever the instigator in the moral failures of male sexuality. 

But was the 6-inch rule and the dating prohibition for the male or for the female? Think. Unless you have a private school full of boy perverts and helpless girls, boys can't date girls unless the girls let them and they can't touch girls unless the girls let them touch them. But do the girls initiate the aggressive desires in the boys or are the boys... well, boys? 

So when problems arise, it is the girls who have to be covered under more fabric to hide their curves, and it is the girls whose activities were restricted to limit contact with the porn-stimulated boys. And all the while the boys get to walk around with their boners poking out of their pants, taking sneak peeks at the girls' budding, feminine curves.

Now, I look like the hypocrite that, indeed, I had been all along, reinforcing sexist behavior without looking at sexuality in light of a much larger world. In all honesty, the best years of my school were when the boys and girls played Buck buck together before we got political about what special restrictions to impose on the female gender.

For Moderns, sexuality is largely empirical. So physical form is important to them. Moderns tend to see sexuality as a physical orientation that necessitates all the other sorts of orientations like emotional, psychological, and spiritual orientations. So if a human has a wiener, then he is categorically different than a "non-wiener" human. And in the same way those two categories are polar opposites, their emotional, psychological, and spiritual orientations and manifestations are categorically opposite, too. Which sets us up for, oh, so many literal ironies.

Even the progressive Modern thinks this way (though he would argue in the "opposite" direction. But still, in his zeal to eradicate sexual categories, the progressive Modern simply thinks that erasing the "obvious" distinctions of male and female creates a mashup of a wholly different category with an entirely new set of emotional, psychological, and spiritual orientations. 

Come on, a homosexual is a male who is affectually oriented to other males. And a lesbian is a female affectually oriented to other women. Neither is an inhuman hybrid of male and female or some macro-evolutionary transitional form like the progressive Modern fancies). But the physical category seems always to be primary to the Modern so that the "other" human categories of emotion, psyche, and spirit follow.

So many analogies have been drawn to describe the fundamental difference between women and men (with the women being generically weaker and the men being generically stronger). But my question is What difference is being described and to what end? Certainly, we aren't describing the physical difference. I mean, we understand that. However, the generic emotional, psychological, and spiritual differences are always linked back to a woman's physical design or limitations (body) as reference. 

The same with the men. One such evangelical concept tries to describe this ultimate difference by underscoring in the Creation narrative that Eve was created inside the Garden of Eden while Adam was created outside the Garden of Eden. Therefore, women are domestic and men are... well, not domestic.

The furthest difference back of this discussion there is (which has been used time and again as a hammer blow to the progress of women everywhere) has been the question What was in the mind of God when He created the female? Shoddy apologetics reinforces that, yes, "male and female created He them" and both were made "in the image of God." But those affirmations can be doctrinally held while practically treated as blanket sentiments when the Creation chronology is considered. 

The chronological account has Adam created perfect before there was ever an Eve. Granted, Adam was "lonely", but when you get to the eating-of-the-fruit part, we have been taught to side with Adam in practice ("The woman who I didn't ask for, but who you thought I needed, made me do this. Therefore, you made me do this"). I'm certain that a different and, probably, more positive angle can be drawn from this text, but the dominating mindset is that Eve was chronologically an afterthought. That is the practical and old-fashioned conclusion drawn almost every time.

So before the human race even gets out of the chutes in the minds of many evangelicals, the female is at a "Biblical" disadvantage and lags far behind. Ask kids who go to Sunday School, and they will insist (in comprehension at least) that the literal translation of the Creation account underscores Eve being referential to Adam. That is to say, many of these kids believe male is primary and the woman is secondary. The man is base and the woman is derivative. 

But can't we simply go along with the law that says It is what it is? A man is a man and a woman is a woman, no matter how widely the spectrum is for each. Is it necessary to underscore that difference with a list of impositions highlighting the flawed distinction that the male is the stronger and the woman the weaker or that the male is the more intelligent and the woman the less intelligent or that the male is unrestricted while the woman domesticated? Can't a man be a real man because he is a man? Can't a woman be a real woman because she is a woman? 

People will always have special definitions and qualifications for titles like masculinity and femininity that go beyond the common understanding. But don't we realize what "real" men everywhere are trying to do? They are trying to save the world! And clearly the only way they know how is to publicly affirm the old-fashioned, fuzzy notion of the female as contingent with a great amount of time spent on the cathartic process of decrying the history of civil rights in this country, the creation of pseudo-covenants between fathers & sons or fathers & daughters, the advocation of neo-Medieval chivalry as a current, legitimate model for masculine and feminine roles, etc. 

But what about being a real man in a way that is currently meaningful instead of applying artificial pressure to roles that exist whether or not we want them to exist? What about being a good man instead of trying to match the perception of an aggressive feminist agenda with an equally obnoxious masculine agenda? A chauvinist is a chauvinist, no matter how benevolent. And a note on people who create special definitions: vaj chaH neH SoH, 'ej SoH yong reinventing qaS pagh.

That didn't translate well from Klingon to English (understandably), so here is the original: He who creates special categories to exclude others can easily reinvent those same categories to make sure you don't qualify to be in.

And that's a fact.

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